ECB president agrees to appear before MEPs over Irish bailout

Mario Draghi to discuss bailout issue in November

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi

European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi


European Central Bank president Mario Draghi has agreed to address MEPs on the Irish bailout in November, as part of a compromise agreed between the ECB and European Parliament following the decision by the ECB not to engage in the banking inquiry.

At a meeting in Strasbourg, the European Parliament’s ECON Committee confirmed that Irish MEPs Brian Hayes, Marian Harkin and Matt Carthy will be permitted to question Mr Draghi in November when he addresses the ECON committee in Brussels.

Last week, the ECB informed the committee of the banking inquiry that it would not participate in the inquiry which closes today in Dublin.

Vice-president of the ECB Vítor Constâncio had offered to attend an “informal exchange of views” with the inquiry regarding the crash, and had been expected to appear before an Oireachtas committee. But the ECB withdrew that offer. It argued that the “clear separation” between an exchange of views and the inquiry “could not be guaranteed,” citing comments made by committee chairman Ciaran Lynch at the appearance of former ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet at the IIEA.

The ECB has previously argued that it is accountable to the European Parliament but not to individual national parliaments.

Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes, who is a full member of the ECON committee welcomed the decision by Mr Draghi to engage with Irish MEPs on the issue, but said that engagement with the committee was “an absolute minimum.”

“Mr. Draghi needs to engage with Irish MEPs in a meaningful and transparent manner. In the interest of accountability, he needs to give a full and frank account about the ECB’s involvement in the decisions that led to the Irish banking crisis. This is especially the case considering the disturbing evidence given by the former IMF deputy director Ajai Chopra today,” he said.

Last December MEP Markin Harkin wrote to Mr Draghi on behalf of Ireland’s 11 MEPs requesting the ECB president to engage with the banking inquiry.